Waste collection services have been brought to a halt in the Gauteng province following the provincial health department’s failure to pay service providers. This comes after the provincial health department admitted to experiencing financial difficulties but denied being in a dire crisis.The Gauteng Health Department’s CFO Lerato Madyo stated that the challenges from the R59 billion budget were not only due to the shortfall of money, but the historic financial problems. The department and National Treasury were in talks when the difficulties in paying service providers began but due to the high demand for healthcare in the province, it does not match the department’s financial needs. “The department is not in a financial crisis, and we must state that openly. The one thing we should take note of is that funding for health is a key priority for the province,” Madyo said.
Dr. Aslam Dasoo The Progressive Health Forum said that he was in disbelief from the department’s inability to pay long-term service providers. “What is shocking about this is that this company, which has now withdrawn its services, had been providing services over the last two years without being paid or without being paid in full. That is, I think because as a medical company it is also required to behave as an essential service but I think it reached the end of its tether in February because it just wouldn’t be paid and this is a serial problem in the Gauteng Department of Health and withdrew its services to the great detriment to the facilities,” he said.The financial issues in Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital are reportedly in bad shape that doctors supply patience with food from their own pockets whilst the medical interns have not been paid for about three months. There is also a shortage of staff at the hospital and patient care continues to decline, while the provincial government dismisses hundreds of temporary Covid workers. “Those 800 posts may have been created for Covid-19, but it provides us an opportunity to redress this imbalance that exists with this hospital having been chronically understaffed,” said Shabir Madhi, a vaccinology professor and the dean of health sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). “We can’t just remove the staff – we need to incorporate them into the system so that we can have this hospital better staffed to ensure better quality of patient care.”